N225,000 for judge’s father-in-law burial, not bribe, Tarfa, SAN tells court

N225,000 for judge’s father-in-law burial, not bribe, Tarfa, SAN tells court

Yvonne Williams

Lagos lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Rickey Tarfa, yesterday, denied allegation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, that he bribed a Federal High Court, Lagos, judge to the tune of N225,000, saying that the money was for the judge’s father-in-law’s burial.

At the resumed hearing in the N2.5billion fundamental rights suit by Tarfa, in which he is challenging his arrest and detention by the EFCC, as well as the confiscation of his phones and car, he said through his lead counsel, Bolaji Ayorinde, SAN, that the money was a donation towards the burial of the judge’s father-in-law, late Alhaji Audi Garba Damasa.

In a 75 paragraph further affidavit deposed to by John Odubela, Head of Chambers, he averred “That the applicant did not on January 7, 2014 bribe Justice M.N Yunusa with the sum of N225,000 or any other sum at all.” He averred that it was common knowledge in legal circles that the judge lost his father in law, Alhaji Audi Damasa on December 28, 2013 in Maiduguri, Borno State and traveled there to attend to the funeral.

“The applicant and some friends  made some donations towards the said funeral rites and to commiserate with the judge since they could not physically go and commiserate with him in Maiduguri where he was and stayed for a while,” he averred. Ayorinde had adopted the substantive application, the supporting affidavit and other exhibits as well as written address and urged the court to grant his prayers.

He argued that suit before the court has nothing to do with the charge at the Lagos State High Court but the arrest of the applicant without reasonable ground of suspicion. He argued that the arrest was made without arrest warrant or court order, adding that the suspects the EFCC wanted to arrest were billed to honour their invitation on February 8 and wondered why they decided to come to arrest them on February 5.

He insisted that they were entitled to the reliefs being sought. But defence counsel, Wahab Shittu,  prayed the court to dismiss the application or in the alternative stay further proceedings, pending the determination of the criminal charge against the applicant before the Lagos High Court. He argued that the facts and circumstances of the case arose from the incident of February 5, which has led to a criminal action.

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